December 5, 2022 / by 

 

Trash Talk: Here for ‘The Big Game’

Okay, I promised I’d put up a Trash Talk post for The Big Game. Here it is, have at it.

What Big Game, you might ask. Yeah, I made that mistake last week.

I must be slipping a cog because a Michigander like myself should have remembered University of Michigan Wolverines plays its Big Ten rival Ohio State University Buckeyes today.

Most of the hardware stores in this state are probably rather quiet right now. Their usual denizens are likely parked in front of the tube in their favorite sports bar if not their den, if not out in the woods watching on their mobile device while choking out the final weekend of firearm deer season.

They’ve just kicked off. If you want to watch the number 3 ranked team U-M meeting the number two team OSU, you’ll find them on Fox.

Big question going into this game — at least for Michiganders: is running back Blake Corum recovered from last weekend’s injury to his left knee?

~ ~ ~

Let’s switch gears to the NFL —

— You Green Bay Packers haters must be tickled at the season-ending suspension of rookie lineman Sean Rhyan for performance enhancing drugs. Personally, I can’t understand why someone with so much going for them would fuck up like this so early into their career with a professional team. He’s played only one game for the Packers.

— Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones just happened to be watching an effort to harass Black students to prevent them from entering the North Little Rock High School they attended with Jones. A photo surfaced this week in which Jones appears within arm’s length of the harassed students. He was just 14 or 15 years old and it was just a coincidence he was there in that photo watching the harassment Jones expects us to believe. We’re also supposed to give him some credit for having been punished by his high school team for being anywhere near this conflict in which he just stood there.

ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith expects to likewise cut Jones, who has profited immensely from so many Black bodies working for him for years, some slack because Jones hasn’t deserved the heat he’s received this week.

Yeah, well those six Black students didn’t deserve the harassment in that 60-odd-year-old photo, the harassment they surely received before that photo, or the discrimination they’ve endured because of structural racism since then.

Smith will continue to benefit from his access journalism and Jones, who has never hired a Black coach, will continue to enjoy his billions.

~ ~ ~

Fucking FIFA. I will be so glad when this atrocity is over.

— “Bonesaw” bin Salman gifted each of Saudi Arabia’s players a Rolls Royce Phantom after their win over Argentina this past Tuesday. Seems on brand awarding a fossil-fueled fossil to a team representing a fossil fuel-producing fossil in a fossil fuel-producer’s futbol series.

— U.S. Men’s National Team tied England 0-0 in yesterday’s Group B match. We’re supposed to be amazed by this. Should we be? I don’t know; I thought the U.S. had a better team but what do I know being a failed soccer mom (failed meaning my youngest played soccer but didn’t enjoy it enough to stay with OR I didn’t nag them enough to stay with it).

— So far World Cup hasn’t crashed the bird app — so far.

~ ~ ~

I don’t really understand Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) let alone the appeal.

Isn’t this just a use-whatever-works-to-bash-your-opponents, a kind of free-for-all ball-free contact sport?

Whatever it is, apparently women can do it, too, and this week’s big women in MMA match saw an undefeated fighter brought down for the first time in the four years the Professional Fighters’ League has been in existence.

Former judo Olympian Kayla Harrison lost to Laura Pacheco in a unanimous decision. This was the third time the pair have met with Harrison coming out on top the first two times.

I wonder how much Harrison’s insta-family has affected her training along with the pandemic having cut into the PFL’s schedule. Harrison’s stepfather died suddenly in 2020 leaving behind an 8-year-old and a 2-year-old, for both of whom Harrison took custody. It’s a lot to add to a person’s plate.

~ ~ ~

Okay, that’s enough from me. There’s roughly nine minutes left in The Big Game and the teams are fairly well matched. The score now is 31-20 with Michigan leading; I wouldn’t bet against Ohio coming from behind.

Tell us what other sportsing you’re watching this weekend.


Open Thread: Countdown to T-Day

I threatened a holiday cooking post for recipe exchanges ahead of the Thanksgiving Day holiday. Voila, here it is.

What are you preparing for your family and/or friends?

If you’re observing by yourself, what are you going to do to treat yourself — and yes, you should definitely do something special for yourself. It’s self care.

If you’re going to be traveling, what’s waiting for you at the end of your trip?

Share here in comments.

~ ~ ~

It’s going to be just me and my spouse here empty nesting a holiday for the first time in forever. My youngest has to work because Big Pharma production lines run 7/24/365; my oldest is spending the holiday with her partner’s family (we get Christmas). We’ll have our big turkey feast on Saturday when my youngest finally gets a day off.

But I’m going to make my squash rolls today so that we have them for the tiny pork roast hubs and I will have tomorrow in lieu of turkey. These are what I bring to all the family gatherings — they’re my signature baked good. This batch will be made with puree from a hybrid squash, a cross between a kabocha and a Hubbard. The flesh was very dense and sweet, deep orange. I’ve already made one batch with this particular squash. The dough was almost too moist so I’ll cut back a bit this time on water. The dough made excellent cinnamon rolls: tender, not too sweet.

Give these a whirl if you have pumpkin or squash on hand.
__________

Squash or Pumpkin Cloverleaf Rolls
Makes 16 cloverleaf dinner rolls

INGREDIENTS:

1 cup squash or pumpkin puree

1/2 cup water
1/2 cup milk
1/3 cup butter, melted

4-1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons light or dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons salt

grated zest of 2 orange (optional)

2-1/2 teaspoons SAF yeast or 2-3/4 teaspoons bread machine yeast

DIRECTIONS:

Put all ingredients in bread machine according to manufacturer’s recommendations (or mix by hand, blending all ingredients except for flour first, then blend in flour).

Set machine to dough setting (or knead by hand until dough is smooth and elastic – about 7 minutes total between mixing and kneading. If making by hand without machine, allow dough to rest and rise in a greased bowl in a warm place loosely covered for 60-90 minutes until dough has doubled in volume).

Grease 16 standard muffin cups.

When machine indicates dough cycle is complete, remove dough onto a lightly-floured work surface.
Divide into 4 equal portions.
Divide each of those into 4 equal portions.
Divide each of the 16 portions into 3 equal portions and roll into small balls the size of a walnut.
WORK FAST – dough may rise rapidly as you work.

Arrange 3 balls of dough into each of the muffin cups.
Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise until doubled in bulk, about 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375F.

Bake for 15-18 minutes or until golden brown.
Remove from pans and allow to cool on racks.

Brush tops with melted butter if desired.

(Based on recipe Squash or Pumpkin Cloverleaf Rolls, p. 356-357, The Bread Lover’s Bread Machine Cookbook, by Beth Hensperger)


Trash Talk: Dead on the Field

I didn’t think anyone would miss my Trash Talk, but lo and behold, someone actually did.

Yeah, I’m surprised, too, because I’m not a sportser whether on a field or in the woods or on the water.

I do take some sick pleasure in sportsers’ pain, though.

Don’t tell my kid but I laughed my butt off when they complained in all caps it was COLD in the woods during their week of deer hunting.

You wanted this, kid. You knew going into the woods it’s cold, the hours are long, and venison is not a sure thing. You really have to enjoy nature and solitude.

The stories that come out of these hunting trips will last for years, though, and they’ll be buffed up and hauled out over every family gathering. They’ll last far longer than the venison sausage exchanged for a week’s worth of dogsitting.

Can’t wait to hear the tales during our next family gathering during the holiday season.

~ ~ ~

Today was the first Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) World Cup match. Ecuador met host Qatar and kicked their asses 2-0.

It’s the least that could happen after so many workers died building Qatar’s field, stadium, and other amenities for its participation in and hosting of FIFA’s World Cup.

Someone calculated the estimated number of hours of play expected in this World Cup series against the total number of workers’ deaths since Qatar was awarded this series in 2010, arriving at a figure of one dead worker for every 64 minutes of play.

Nobody needs futbol that badly.

FIFA’s president also set the tone for this series with an hour-long rant:

FIFA President Gianni Infantino’s extraordinary tirade against Western critics of the controversial tournament in an explosive hour-long monologue is still making headlines around the world. Human rights groups described it as “crass” and an “insult” to migrant workers.

Infantino, the boss of world soccer’s governing body, looked on glumly as he addressed hundreds of journalists in Doha, Qatar, Saturday, and started the news conference with a near hour-long speech, during which he accused Western critics of hypocrisy and racism.

Sure, sure…just because the colonialist west built itself on the backs of enslaved people and occupied indigenous lands, they’re not entitled to grow the fuck up and demand better especially from a sport which has been ridiculously corrupt?

The topper: no beer allowed because it’s a Muslim country and alcohol is forbidden.

I get it, your country, your rules, but those dead workers deserved better. The least they merit is a memorial toast if you’re in reach of alcohol while committing to a global standard for workers’ safety.

It wasn’t just alcohol but kosher food which was banned. Not exactly welcoming to all the people of the Middle East.

I’m not looking forward to the rest of this series.

Wonder how Twitter handled the match; I have no idea because I haven’t been over there. Probably not badly given the largest number of Twitter users are in the U.S. and Japan.

~ ~ ~

Speaking of Twitter, was Kyrie Irving ever suspended or banned from social media platforms?

I see he’s apologizing now for his bullshit anti-Semitic speech. Wonder if that’s about the National Basketball Association’s 8-game suspension alone, or if it’s about Irving’s access to media.

The Brooklyn Nets guard has been cleared to play and will start Sunday night against the Memphis Grizzlies. It will mark his first game since he was suspended Nov. 3 for “harmful impact of his conduct” relating to social media posts around a book and movie that contained antisemitic ideas.

With Twitter’s Musk relying on a poll outcome manufactured by the trolls/bots he derided, Twitter’s allowed both Trump and Kanye West back on and both committed their share of hate speech.

And look, there he is on Twitter, no mention of his hate speech, though.

Which means it’s not Twitter access spurring Irving to offer his questionable mea culpa.

~ ~ ~

What the actual. Detroit’s kitties won their third straight game today, this time over the New York Giants with a final score of 31-18 at the Giants’ field.

Jamaal Williams scored three touchdowns for the Lions.

Anything is possible, huh?

Bmaz wondered earlier in the week where Buffalo was going to play if at all given the record-breaking snow storm expected which was supposed to drop six feet of snow.

Since the Lions were in Giants’ Meadowlands MetLife stadium in New Jersey, the Buffalo Bills played in Detroit’s covered Ford Field stadium, located less than a three-hour drive from Cleveland.

Detroit was on the wrong side of a Great Lake for the weather system which dropped snow on the west side of Michigan and New York state – conveniently for Buffalo, since the team won 31-23 over the Cleveland Browns.

Looks like it was a good time even if it wasn’t at home.

~ ~ ~

This post’s title “Dead on the Field” is derived from a riddle:

Dead on the field lie ten soldiers in white, felled by three eyes, black as night.

Offer your solution to this riddle below in comments.

Treat this as an open thread.


Three Things: Twitter Death Watch in Progress

[NB: check the byline, thanks. /~Rayne]

This could be hyperbole but it’s difficult to imagine a social media platform the size of Twitter surviving nearly 90% loss of employees across the organization inside a three-week time frame.

I certainly wouldn’t bet any of my money on it.

~ 3 ~

Thursday was the deadline Twitter’s owner Elon Musk set for remaining Twitter employees to commit to being “hardcore” for Elmo.

They were supposed to have clicked/not clicked by 5:00 p.m. to take an offer of termination with severance.

Many are choosing to walk away, their goodbyes recorded in this ongoing thread (link active at time of posting but no guarantees how long it will stay up):

Kylie Robison for Fortune Magazine reported in a Twitter thread that as much as 88% of the staff Twitter had when Musk took over on October 27 has either been fired or opted to leave.

There were employees on vacation, on medical leave, and under H1-B visa who have questions which haven’t been answered; they will not have been able to make a fair election of hardcore for Elmo or nope, thanks.

The number of employees which may fall under this category could be about 1000.

At one point it was said Musk was negotiating with a handful of key engineers critical to keeping Twitter running.

Zoe Schiffer at Platformer reported at 6:52 p.m. ET badge access had been suspended and the Twitter office buildings closed.

Her tweets leave open the possibility some of the employees who opted to leave may yet be asked to remain.

I wouldn’t hold my breath after reading BusinessInsider’s Kali Hays.

How does a company operate without payroll?

If Twitter has virtually no information security personnel, likely has no documented plan in place for dealing with this scenario, let alone failures all along the way for handling roll out of the Twitter Blue verification system which was a mess of violations all on its own, Twitter could be hammered hard by the Federal Trade Commission for failing to meet the terms of the 2011 consent agreement.

I don’t think it’d be unreasonable to say FTC has grounds to shut Twitter down right now if no users’ or advertisers’ data is secure; the FTC has shut down businesses before. Taking any money from advertisers at this point let alone users for Twitter verification or Twitter Blue would shortchange them if they expected data security.

As Alex Stamos, Facebook’s former CISO notes in this Twitter thread, it’s not just the FTC with whom Musk and Twitter will be in trouble. Twitter’s former outside counsel Riana Pfefferkorn agrees there are big problems and has more to add.

And Elmo’s response to all of this is shitposting.

Not even his own shitposting; he stole the meme from another user.

With total staffing and capabilities up in the air, will Twitter survive into the World Cup which begins on this coming Sunday November 20?

I won’t even put money on that.

~ 2 ~

Marcy wrote recently about Elmo’s forced marriage. Looking at the timeline of events leading up to the closing of the Twitter acquisition, there was certainly something iffy in the way Elmo avoided a background check and due diligence when offered a seat on the board of directors in April, and in the way he hustled out of Delaware’s Chancery Court in October where discovery might have revealed all that wasn’t back in April.

@capitolhunters found some embarrassing information about Elmo which might explain his skittishness. It’s public record but unless one is determined to find it, it won’t surface readily.

Read the entire thread at the Internet Archive; I wouldn’t count on it being available at Twitter. It may have been shadow banned at one point earlier Thursday evening as I couldn’t pull it up.

Is it possible the lack of qualifications and credentials as well as his former status as an illegal immigrant are the reasons why Musk appeared to avoid a background check and due diligence?

Is this a compelling reason he should not have been able to purchase Twitter to begin with — because he could be compromised because of repeated misrepresentations about his background?

~ 1 ~

If you’re a regular Twitter user, you may wish to see something constructive done and soon. There are entire communities of people who can’t just switch to another platform because they’ve had small businesses built up around their Twitter presence. There are minority groups who have difficulty switching to different platforms; without Twitter they lose contact with others in their minority community.

One only need look at the mass shooting at University of Virginia last weekend and the confusion about verification on Twitter to realize how serious the loss of Twitter’s integrity as a utility is to much of the U.S. — and it’s not just the U.S.

I recommend checking @Celeste_pewter’s Twitter thread for action items including calling your senator.

(There’s a copy of her thread at the Internet Archive just in case the original one at Twitter becomes unavailable.)

~ 0 ~

I can’t help think of two things:

— Oil producing countries Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and UAE financed a considerable portion of Musk’s purchase of Twitter, with Prince al Waleed being the second largest investor. Did they do it for an investment, for access to a media space to promote their agenda, or because they saw a way to screw with one of the most popular electric car manufacturers by giving its compromised CEO the means to fuck himself?

— Text messages produced as part of discovery in Twitter’s lawsuit against Musk included messages between Musk and his ex-wife Talulah (Jane) Riley in which she begged him to buy Twitter and delete it because Twitter had banned conservative satire site Babylon Bee. Riley had discussed the banning with her close friend Raiyah Bint Al-Hussein, wife of British journalist Ned Donovan, and half-sister to King Abdullah II of Jordan. Why would a British actress like Riley be so upset about an American conservative website’s banning by a U.S. social media platform?


Three Things: The Early Bird Got Wormed

[NB: Check the byline, thanks. /~Rayne]

The self-ownage continues at Twitter. I don’t even know where to start because there’s just so much damage in the bird app’s debris field.

Let’s go with the problems closest to deaths.

~ ~ ~

The brilliant billionaire who overpaid for Twitter, who thought his Tesla engineers were qualified to determine staffing levels on software created over 16 years they didn’t write, had another brilliant idea.

He played Jenga with code within the platform because the application was too slow.

(I haven’t heard anyone complain about Twitter’s speed in ages, and when there’ve been complaints they’re usually in tandem with a major event flooding the network and system with user requests and tweets.)

Twitter’s speed hasn’t been a bottleneck to increasing users or profitability.

In the process of unplugging stuff to see if the platform would speed up, a worker who actually knew something about all the legacy code criticized Musk’s absurd efforts.

Free speech absolutist Musk fired him, egged on by his fanboi trolls.



And then users began to experience problems with Two-Factor Authentication (2FA) over Short Message Service (SMS), otherwise know as text messages.

The security system which allows users to ensure their account can’t be accessed by unauthorized persons was broken, preventing users from accessing their accounts.

This also prevented users from checking their accounts to make sure they weren’t hacked and their verification worked.

~ ~ ~

Which is why during Sunday’s night’s mass shooting at University of Virginia, students as well as the public following the story were reportedly confused about UVA’s emergency message. They couldn’t be sure after Elon Musk’s back-and-forth changes to its verification system whether the message they read in Twitter from UVA-Emergency Management was legitimate.

Fortunately students used their own student-developed thread in a mobile app called Yik Yak to validate the emergency. Yik Yak has been problematic in the past, pulled from app stores because of unmoderated toxic behavior, but it was relaunched in 2021 and valuable to students during the shooting lockdown at UVA because Yik Yak limits reach to five miles. In other words, the students knew whoever was using the app was local to campus.

It’s possible the students could have deduced the UVA-Emergency Management tweet was legitimate because it displayed the source of the message – Rave Mobile Safety, an emergency messaging system. Had UVA-Emergency Management’s account been spoofed, a phone or desktop might have appeared instead of Rave.

This detail may not be available for much longer. Musk thinks identifying the source of tweets by device or application is just inconvenient bloatware.

Should we ask UVA students and their parents about Twitter’s bloatware problem?

~ ~ ~

As I noted in my previous Twitter acquisition timeline post, the company has been subject to a Federal Trade Commission consent decree since 2011 because of its failures to assure users’ personal data was secure.

From the FTC’s 2011 statement:

…The FTC alleged that serious lapses in the company’s data security allowed hackers to obtain unauthorized administrative control of Twitter, including both access to non-public user information and tweets that consumers had designated as private, and the ability to send out phony tweets from any account.

A $150 million penalty had been levied by the FTC only a month after Twitter and Musk agreed on terms for the acquisition.

And yet Musk noodled around with Twitter Blue and the blue check verification system, affecting the verification status of organizations as well as individuals – none of the changes done with documentation prepared in advance, or with red team testing for quality assurance.

Musk’s ham-handed mucking around in microservices temporarily affecting 2FA SMS – some accounts are apparently still affected – was likewise done without advance preparation, and in the face of criticism by seasoned employees who understood the system.

It’s worth noting in that same statement by the FTC these last two paragraphs:

NOTE: A consent agreement is for settlement purposes only and does not constitute an admission by the respondent that the law has been violated. When the Commission issues a consent order on a final basis, it carries the force of law with respect to future actions. Each violation of such an order may result in a civil penalty of up to $16,000.

The Federal Trade Commission works for consumers to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices and to provide information to help spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint in English or Spanish, visit the FTC’s online Complaint Assistant or call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357). The FTC enters complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to more than 1,800 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad. The FTC’s Web site provides free information on a variety of consumer topics. “Like” the FTC on Facebook and “follow” us on Twitter.

Though the FTC might want to rethink that last Follow, persons who felt their personal data was at risk over the last three weeks might want to drop the FTC a note.

~ ~ ~

After reading about the acquisition and the subsequent mass terminations along with the manifold fuck-ups like verification and 2FA SMS, I wonder if Musk and Twitter executives ever notified the FTC of the change in ownership as required by the consent decree.


The Tanking of Twitter

[NB: Check the byline, thanks. /~Rayne]

First, before the rest of this post, a warning: if you have a Twitter account, active or inactive, go turn on 2FA.
Do it on a desktop or laptop, not your phone.
Be sure to obtain a single-use backup code for secure login in case you’re unable to use 2FA.*

There are too many reports right now of quirky things going on at Twitter. Just play it safe and protect your account.

~ ~ ~

It’s amazing how little drag billions of dollars provides in the face of gravity — and by gravity I mean the force hubris and ignorance may exert when they meet reality.

This observation is spot on after Thursday’s conference call with Twitter’s current owner, Elon Musk:

I don’t even dare embed the original tweet because it may disappear if the worst should come to pass and swaths of Twitter are shuttered to outside access.

How the hell did Musk, the head of SpaceX and Tesla, manage to burn up so much goodwill inside 16 days?

Let’s take a look at the timeline of events since Musk began buying stock in Twitter.

Date

Description

31-JAN-2022

Musk begins accumulating shares of Twitter

14-MAR-2022

Musk now owns 5% of Twitter

25-MAR-2022

Musk polls Twitter users, “Free speech is essential to a functioning democracy. Do you believe Twitter rigorously adheres to this principle?” 70% of 2 million participants said no.

26-MAR-2022

Reuters: Elon Musk giving ‘serious thought’ to build a new social media platform

Musk makes contact with former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey as well as Twitter board members to discuss the platform

04-APR-2022

Musk filed a Schedule 13G with the Securities and Exchange Commission, revealing his acquisition of a 9% stake in Twitter.

The SEC acknowledged receipt of the 13G and asked Musk for clarification of several points including how Musk determined March 14 was the date which triggered a need for the 13G filing, and why he didn’t file within 10 days of March 14.

04-APR-2022

Twitter’s board offers Musk a seat on the board if he accumulates no more than 14.9% of the company’s stock. The offer includes a background check and completion of a D&O questionnaire.

https://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/1418091/000119312522095651/d342257dex101.htm

05-APR-2022

CEO Parag Agrawal welcomes Musk to the board via tweet.

09-APR-2022

Including a list of the Twitter accounts with the most followers, Musk tweets, “Most of these “top” accounts tweet rarely and post very little content. Is Twitter dying?

Agrawal replied that the tweets were unhelpful. It isn’t known until much latter via released text messages that Musk and Agrawal had been talking up to this point.

09+10-APR-2022

AP: Musk suggests Twitter changes, including accepting Dogecoin; Musk tweeted these ideas over the weekend.

11-APR-2022

AP: Tesla CEO Elon Musk won’t join Twitter’s board after all; Agrawal tweeted this news on Monday.

13-APR-2022

Musk files Amendment 2 to his Schedule 13D/A

The amendment includes his offer — a non-binding proposal — to Twitter’s Chairman of the Board Bret Taylor to acquire Twitter at $54.20/share and take it private.

15-APR-2022

Twitter adopted a rights agreement which included a poison pill.

20-APR-2022

Musk obtained $46.5 billion in financing commitments according to exhibits to amended 13D filed with the SEC.

25-APR-2022

Twitter’s board unanimously approved an offer by Musk to buy Twitter for $44 billion.

29-APR-2022

Reuters: Musk sells Tesla shares worth $8.5 billion ahead of Twitter takeover

02-MAY-2022

In 10-Q filing to SEC, Twitter estimated spam accounts as 5% or less of active users.

Musk tweeted, “Free speech is the bedrock of a functioning democracy, and Twitter is the digital town square where matters vital to the future of humanity are debated. I also want to make Twitter better than ever by enhancing the product with new features, making the algorithms open source to increase trust, defeating the spam bots, and authenticating all humans. Twitter has tremendous potential — I look forward to working with the company and the community of users to unlock it.”

04-MAY-2022

Amendment 6 to Schedule 13D showed Musk obtained commitments amounting to more than $7 billion in funding for the acquisition of Twitter.

10-MAY-2022

NPR: Elon Musk says he’ll reverse Donald Trump Twitter ban

12-MAY-2022

Twitter CEO announced a hiring freeze and cost cutting along with releasing two executives. They were:

– Kayvon Beykpour, general manager

– Bruce Falck, general manager for revenue

13-MAY-2022

WaPo: Elon Musk says Twitter deal is on hold, putting bid on shaky ground — Musk expressed concern that spam/accounts were in actuality more than 5% of users in spite of Twitter’s 10-Q statement.

25-MAY-2022

Federal Trade Commission and Dept of Justice Order Twitter to Pay $150 Million Penalty for Violating 2011 FTC Order and Cease Profiting from Deceptively Collected Data

06-JUN-2022

WaPo: Elon Musk threatens to back out of Twitter deal over withholding data – he claimed Twitter was “actively resisting” requests for information though his April agreement to purchase Twitter waived the right to look more deeply at the company’s data.

08-JUL-2022

WaPo: Elon Musk files to back out of Twitter deal – Musk’s letter to Twitter filed with the SEC said he was “terminating their merger agreement” but Twitter replied the same day saying it would sue Musk.

12-JUL-2022

NYT: Twitter Sues Musk After He Tries Backing Out of $44 Billion Deal – the company filed suit in Delaware’s Chancery Court.

19-JUL-2022

Chancellor Kathaleen St. Jude McCormick set a trial date for October 17 in Delaware’s Chancery Court.

29-JUL-2022

Bloomberg: Musk Files Defense Under Seal as Twitter Trial Set for Oct. 17

09-AUG-2022

A former Twitter employee was found guilty of spying on behalf of Saudi Arabia.

23-AUG-2022

USNews: Peiter Zatko, Twitter’s former security chief July 2020-January 2022, claimed in a whistleblower complaint filed in July with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice that Twitter was not straightforward with regulators about its information security and its handling of disinformation.

13-SEP-2022

Twitter’s former security chief Zatko testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee about Twitter’s problematic information security.

03-OCT-2022

Musk tweets Vladimir Putin’s “peace plan”; it’s alleged this tweet occurred after Musk had a conversation with Putin.

04-OCT-2022

Twitter disclosed in an SEC filing that Musk agreed to complete the purchase of Twitter for $44 billion according to the terms established in April.

06-OCT-2022

WaPo: Twitter-Musk trial delayed as sides argue over money and trust

20-OCT-2022

Report: Musk explained to prospective investors that he will cut Twitter staffing by 75%

26-OCT-2022

Musk arrives at Twitter’s corporate offices carrying a bathroom sink. “Let that sink in!” he tweeted along with a video of his entrance.

27-OCT-2022

Musk takes control of Twitter, firing uppermost management including

– Parag Agrawal, Chief Executive Officer

– Ned Segal, Chief Financial Officer

– Vijaya Gadde, Global Lead of Legal Policy, Trust, and Safety

– Sean Edgett, General Counsel

30-OCT-2022

The Verge: Twitter is planning to start charging $20 per month for verification – Musk threatened to fire employees building this verified user system.

30-OCT-2022

Musk tweeted, “The whole verification process is being revamped right now

01-NOV-2022

Departure of more Twitter officials revealed, top management gutted; exits include

– Sarah Personette, Chief customer officer

– Dalana Brand, Chief People and Diversity Officer

– Nick Caldwell, General manager for core technologies

– Leslie Berland, Chief marketing officer

– Jay Sullivan, Head of product

– Jean-Philippe Maheu, vice president of global sales

01-NOV-2022

Major brands pause advertising on Twitter, including Audi, General Mills, General Motors, Ad rep Interpublic Group, Mondelez International, Pfizer, Volkswagen

01-NOV-2022

Twitter to deny Blue subscribers access to ad-free articles

01-NOV-2022

Musk mixed it up with author Stephen King over the proposed $20/month fee for Twitter Blue verified status

01-NOV-2022

CNET: Twitter Will Charge $8 a Month for Verified Accounts, Elon Musk Suggests

04-NOV-2022

Half of Twitter’s workforce is pink slipped.

Included are personnel who were building the new verification system.

04-NOV-2022

CNN: Elon Musk said Twitter has seen a ‘massive drop in revenue’ as more brands pause ads

04-NOV-2022

Entire departments were gutted:

– Human Rights

– Communications

– Accessibility Experience Team

– META (Machine learning ethics, transparency and accountability)

– Curation

04-NOV-2022 through 08-NOV-2022

CNN: Elon Musk sold nearly $4 billion worth of Tesla stock since Twitter deal closed

05-NOV-2022

Engadget: Twitter starts testing paid account verification on iOS

06-NOV-2022

Bloomberg: Twitter Now Asks Some Fired Workers to Please Come Back – some were fired “by mistake”

06-NOV-2022

Actor Kathy Griffin suspended by Twitter after mocking Musk by changing her account name and avatar to copy Musk’s.

07-NOV-2022

CBS: Musk says Twitter account holders who impersonate others will be banned

08-NOV-2022

Guardian: Twitter to offer ‘official’ label for select verified accounts – “Accounts that will receive [the label] include government accounts, commercial companies, business partners, major media outlets, publishers and some public figures,” Twitter’s Early Stage Products manager Esther Crawford tweeted.

08-NOV-2022

Reuters: Twitter engineer says he was fired for helping coworkers who faced layoffs — several employees are now filing a lawsuit against Twitter for firing them while engaged in protected work per the National Labor Relations Board.

09-NOV-2022

1:45 p.m. ET – Twitter users note there are two Twitter Blue services at different prices.

2:00 p.m. ET – Engadget: Twitter’s $8 a month Blue subscription with verification is rolling out; available on iOS only relying on Apple’s identity verification.

2:52 p.m. ET – Twitter users receive a notice there will be a change in Twitter Blue service; the service is being revamped with current subscriptions to be canceled at the end of the month.

09-NOV-2022

5:26 p.m. ET – Twitter Support tweets, “We’re not currently putting an “Official” label on accounts but we are aggressively going after impersonation and deception.

10-NOV-2022

Several high-level technical executives resigned, including

– Yoel Roth, Lead, Integrity and Safety

– Lea Kissner, CISO

– Damien Kieran, Chief Privacy Officer

10-NOV-2022

Internal communications about separations and outstanding compensation are a mess.

10-NOV-2022

With little advance notice, Musk hosts an Ask Me Anything-type of meeting with employees. Topics included:

– turning Twitter into a banking services business-news

– insufficient cash flow with bankruptcy a possibility

– elimination of remote/work from home with mandatory return to the office

– offering short-form video in competition with TikTok (like Twitter’s now-defunct Vine service)

10-NOV-2022

Multiple outlets note that Twitter may be in violation of the FTC’s 2011 Consent Decree by not developing a security program documented in writing within days of rolling out new services.

A former outside counsel to Twitter warned of FTC fines for lack of compliance, but Twitter is apparently requiring its engineers to “self certify” while failing to put new services through full red team review before implementation in production environment.

10-NOV-2022

A U.S. Senator, a major pharmaceutical company, a major aerospace and defense company, and Chiquita are among the noted individuals and organizations whose identities have been spoofed by accounts using the new Twitter Blue verification service.

10-NOV-2022

Twitter paused its Twitter Blue verification service on Thursday night after the new service had been abused with misinformation.

11-NOV-2022

NYT: Insiders report as much as 80% of engineering staff have been fired, leaving little more than a skeleton crew to manage key portions of the platform.

11-NOV-2022

Twitter’s remaining Human Resource team sent laid-off workers an email acknowledging delays sending their separation agreements and release of claims documents. But HR sent it CC: not BCC: with a Reply-All barrage following.

Stories of badly handled terminations are becoming public.

12-NOV-2022

Thread: “Scoop from within Twitter: small things are breaking, not enough engineers to fix them. Noticed that notification counts are not showing? The BE service powering it is down since Thursday. A bug was filed, but the team that would fix it is full on with verification work.

12-NOV-2022

More personnel are being terminated overnight, without warning. Managers are learning as their reports including contract personnel suddenly disappear from resources.

The last couple of items were added late Saturday night. I’m afraid to look and see what might have transpired since I checked last.

There’s no nice way to put this: this entire situation is fucked up and it’s all on Elon Musk.

He’s done immense damage to Twitter’s brand as well as his own personal brand. He seems to think branding isn’t important though advertising customers like Eli Lilly, Lockheed Martin, and Chiquita offer evidence brand damage from sloppy management actually costs money.

The FTC is likely to punctuate this even further because of the egregious manner in which Twitter under Musk’s ownership has failed to comply with the 2011 consent decree. Musk ought to talk with Facebook’s Zuckerberg about how expensive this can be.

And there are humans who are going to pay for Musk’s cavalier behavior — families who might be expecting a child who are now dealing with COBRA, remote workers who are being forced back to the office in areas with severe housing shortages (that’d be Ireland, not just the U.S.). Musk has tweeted about this but this issue didn’t come up out of thin air, and like everything else so far has been handled badly.

There’s some question whether Twitter has adequate staffing related to compliance with EU regulations and GDPR and are they in Ireland.

Three points about Musk’s Twitter acquisition really boggle my mind after reading all this material. First,

Mr. Musk had brought his own advisers, many of whom had worked at his other businesses, such as the digital payments company PayPal and the electric carmaker Tesla. They parked themselves in the “war room,” on the second floor of a building attached to Twitter’s headquarters. The area, which Twitter used to fete big-spending advertisers and dignitaries, was stocked with company memorabilia. …

The advisers included the venture capitalists David Sacks, Jason Calacanis and Sriram Krishnan; Mr. Musk’s personal lawyer Alex Spiro; his financial manager Jared Birchall; and Antonio Gracias, a former Tesla director. Joining in were engineers and others from Tesla; from Mr. Musk’s brain interface start-up, Neuralink; and from his tunneling company, the Boring Company.

Musk is relying on the expertise of people in disparate businesses which have nothing to do with social media — unless Musk is already thinking he’s going to Johnny Mnemonic users’ heads with their Twitter accounts using Neuralink, a product which is likely to go nowhere since it is technically a medical device and it’s not ready for testing in humans.

The Boring Company, though. Really? Name a successful, profitable installation. Don’t mind me not holding my breath waiting, though.

There have been rumors Musk is surrounded by yes men and sycophants. We may now know who they are.

The  second questionable point:

The scope of layoffs was a moving target. Twitter managers were initially told to cut 25 percent of the work force, three people said. But Tesla engineers who reviewed Twitter’s code proposed deeper cuts to the engineering teams. Executives overseeing other parts of Twitter were told to expand their layoff lists.

Tesla. Engineers.

The people who engineer electric cars, the software of which is not safe for autonomous self driving, somehow understand enough about social media software used by hundreds of millions of accounts globally, 7/24/365, to make an assessment of staffing requirements.

They somehow understand the issues consumers, governments, industries, nonprofits/NGOs have had using and relying on this social media application since it was launched 16 years ago.

Clearly not since they missed the part about the FTC’s consent decree which might shape how any code is written, tested, rolled out, operates, and maintained.

The third doozy:

Twitter executives also suggested assessing the lists for diversity and inclusion issues so the cuts would not hit people of color disproportionately and to avoid legal trouble. Mr. Musk’s team brushed aside the suggestion, two people said.

This is the same Elon Musk whose businesses have been sued more than once for discriminatory practices, pointedly choosing to ignore federal and state employment law.

It’s a pattern of behavior and it’s not acceptable, particularly if Musk’s corporations are beneficiaries of federal incentives.

~ ~ ~

We’re long overdue to regulate social media, not just because they are monopolistic and oligopolistic.

Our businesses, our personal lives have become dependent on some of these platforms. So has our government. It should not be possible to spoof the identity of a U.S. member of Congress let alone any other government employee or entity. It should not be easy to trash businesses’ reputations for the lulz.

Nor should we as individuals be waiting for the moment we learn our personal data has been breached because a billionaire was sloppy and indifferent about its security though it’s a key facet of the business he bought for the lulz.

Democrats may have a majority in both houses of Congress next year. But they already have one now and they should use it immediately learn why Elon Musk thinks his new toy is above the law and beyond regulatory oversight.

__________
* I meant to add you should seriously consider deleting the Twitter app from your phone. I suspect there will be attempts to hack users’ accounts using the cell phone information Twitter has on record. Protecting this data was at the heart of the FTC’s consent decree.


Trash Talk: It’s All Over But The Screaming

Golf widow here again. My seasonal widowhood has come to the end of the road.

It’s the last weekend of the golf season here in this bit of the Midwest. The final round is underway now. Hereforth the not-so-retired retiree will be home until golf’s pre-season begins next April.

Or until firearm deer season begins on November 15.

Or the pre-season preparation of deer camp over the weekend before the season begins.

In other words I have a very narrow window of opportunity to get honey-do tasks accomplished over the next five days, and even that has been shortened by a previous commitment to replace brakes and repair an A/C system on my son’s car.

As soon as I finish publishing this post I will be assembling all the tools and supplies needed for a whirlwind of chores. Let’s hope four days is enough time to get them all done.

What’s on your fall chore list?

~ ~ ~

Another season has come to an end, the boys of summer can go home: Houston Astros beat the Philadelphia Phillies last night. The final score was 4-1 in the sixth and last game of the Major League Baseball Championship series, with the Astros achieving best of seven games with four games to Phillies’ two.

There will be a lot of discussion about Phillies’ manager Rob Thomson’s sixth inning decision to pull pitcher Zack Wheeler and replace him with Jose Alvarado while the bases were full.

Astro’s Yordan Alvarez batted a home run on Alvarado and that was the entire ball game.

Wheeler’s made polite politic noises about Thomson’s decision but surely he must be gutted.

Feels like we should all be a bit more inured to lousy management decisions by now.

~ ~ ~

In NFL news, Miami Dolphins are currently up 28-25 against the Chicago Bears. Cooler weather isn’t deterring them.

This bit of reporting from CBS Sports made me snort:

Miami’s two-game winning streak can directly be tied to the return of quarterback Tua Tagovailoa as the Dolphins have wins against the Pittsburgh Steelers and at the Detroit Lions in his first two games back in action. He leads the NFL in passing yards per attempt (9.0) and passer rating (112.7) with the Dolphins amassing 2,340 passing yards this season, the most in the NFL. He’ll be going up against the NFL’s fifth-ranked pass defense in Chicago that allows only 188 passing yards per game.

It’s great that Tagovailoa has apparently recovered from his gawdawful injuries, but the last two games were against an AFC North team with a 2-6 record and an NFC North team with a 1-6 record. The latter – the Detroit Lions – really? Who couldn’t beat them?

~ ~ ~

Yikes – this Major League Soccer 2022 MLS Cup final yesterday between Los Angeles Football Club and Philadelphia Union was something.

I shudder each time I’ve watched this.

The final came down to a shootout in which Crepeau’s substitute John McCarthy managed three saves.

~ ~ ~

After WNBA player Brittney Griner’s appeal was denied by a Russian court on October 25, the U.S. Embassy attempted to visit her.

They were able to check on her condition on November 3. She’s holding up as best she can all things considered.

I wonder how much Griner and the welfare of the other detained American Paul Whelan factored into the new report the Biden administration’s request that Ukraine remain open to negotiation.

It had better not have come about because of House Democratic progressives’ sloppy approach to this subject this summer.

Treat this as an open thread.


Lasciando il matrimonio di Elmo

[NB: check the byline, thanks. /~Rayne]

My moderation team counterpart bmaz is a bit put out at people who are flouncing Twitter dramatically. We don’t see eye to eye about the topic of departing Twitter now. I’m among those who are unwinding their accounts now that Elmo has been forced into marrying Twitter, Inc.

Elmo’s turbulent management style is one reason I’d like to leave. Who knows what any given day will yield – will a new policy pop up out of the blue insisting users must pay for services to which they’ve become accustomed for years?

Security is another matter of concern, and in saying security I mean I have my doubts about personal data security now that Elmo has capriciously announced he’s going to fire 75% of Twitter’s personnel…and now 50% this Friday…and maybe with or without compliance with state or federal WARN Act.

Does anyone really think Twitter personnel are at top form right now when they’re looking over their shoulder for their pink slip? Could you blame them if they aren’t?

But my biggest single reason for wanting to leave Twitter is this: I do not want to be Elmo’s product.

~ ~ ~

Artist Richard Serra said of his experience viewing the painting Las Meninas (c. 1656) by Diego Velázquez:

“I was still very young and trying to be a painter, and it knocked me sideways. I looked at it for a long time before it hit me that I was an extension of the painting. This was incredible to me. A real revelation. I had not seen anything like it before and it made me think about art and about what I was doing, in a radically different way. But first, it just threw me into a state of total confusion.”

When one first sets eyes upon the painting, it appears to be one of the young Infanta Margaret Theresa of Spain and her ladies in waiting, standing next to a portraitist at work. It takes a moment to realize that the portraitist isn’t painting the Infanta but whomever the Infanta is observing, and yet another moment to realize the subject of the portrait and the Infanta’s gaze can be seen in the mirror behind them.

The painting’s observer will then realize they are standing in for the Infanta’s parents who are being painted by the portraitist — and the painting is a self portrait of Velázquez at work. The painting’s observer is a proxy who has not fully consented to their role but nonetheless becomes the subject of the painter at work.

It is this same inversion which must be grasped to understand why I refuse to be Elmo’s product.

I know that I am not Twitter’s customer. I’m not the consumer.

If I remain I am the consumed in Elmo’s forced marriage scenario.

~ ~ ~

Serra and director Carlota Fay Schoolman produced a short film in 1973 entitled, “Television Delivers People.” It was considered video art, using a single channel with a text scroll to critique television.

This excerpt explains the relationship between the audience and television:

Commercial television delivers 20 million people a minute.
In commercial broadcasting the viewer pays for the privilege of having himself sold.
It is the consumer who is consumed.
You are the product of t.v.
You are delivered to the advertiser who is the customer.
He consumes you.
The viewer is not responsible for programming —
You are the end product.

What television did in the 1970s, social media does today. It consolidates access to disparate individuals over distances into audiences of varying sizes and offers them to advertisers.

Social media is mass media.

Social media, however, doesn’t serve audiences to advertisers alone. Given the right kind of incentives and development, audiences can be bought for other purposes.

There are almost no regulatory restrictions on audiences being identified, aggregated, bought, and resold, and very little comprehensive regulation regarding data privacy.

Elmo so far doesn’t appear to understand any of this between his uneducated blather about free speech and his ham handedness about Twitter’s business model.

I do not want to be sold carelessly and indifferently by Elmo.

~ ~ ~

If you are a social media user, even if validated or a celebrity with millions of followers, you are the product. You are being sold by the platform to advertisers.*

There may even be occasions when you’re not sold but used – recall the access Facebook granted to researcher Aleksandr Kogan in 2013 as part of experimentation, which then underpinned the work of Cambridge Analytica ahead of the 2016 election.

Facebook was punished by the Federal Trade Commission for violating users’ privacy, but there’s still little regulatory framework to assure social media users they will not be similarly abused as digital chattel.

What disincentives are there to rein in a billionaire with an incredibly short attention span and little self control now that he’s disbanded Twitter’s board of directors? What will prevent Elmo from doing what Facebook did to its users?

I’ve raised a couple kids with ADD. I don’t want to be on the other end of the equation, handled as digital fungible by an adult with what appears to be ADD weaponized with narcissism.

I deserve better.

I’m only going to get it if I act with this understanding, attributed again to Serra:

If something is free, you’re the product.

~ ~ ~

By now you should be used to hearing this, but I’m leaving this marriage, Elmo.

Treat this as an open thread.

__________

* We do not sell data about our community members.


Trash Talk: Begin with the End in Mind

Golf widow here, once again enjoying a calm sunny Sunday afternoon left to my own devices. The leaves are nearly all fallen and blow away, the migratory birds have taken flight leaving only the hardiest yet to make the seasonal trek. Winter is definitely coming.

Not to go all Stephen Covey on you, but I began this post yesterday with its end in mind.

“When I buy a new book, I always read the last page first, that way in case I die before I finish, I know how it ends. That, my friend, is a dark side.”
Nora Ephron, When Harry Met Sally

Sports in the fall is a seasonal trek, too. We’re nearly done with the boys of summer, deep into football weather, thinking about sharpening our skates and waxing our skis.

Along the way we’ll find end of stories. If we’re lucky and aware, we’ll find the seeds of beginnings.

~ ~ ~

It was quiet last evening as I predicted when Michigan State University’s Spartans met University of Michigan’s Wolverines on U-M’s turf.

As expected, U-M won 29-7 over MSU.

But not expected was the poor sportsmanship after the game, still being investigated by police and the Big 10 conference commissioner. Wolverine’s defensive back Ja’Den McBurrows and another unnamed player were roughed up in a tunnel or hallway after the game when players left the stadium.

There’s video on social media of the fracas. MSU players should not have made any contact with U-M players.

While MSU players should not have lost their cool and should have displayed more sportsmanship, the host team should not have allowed contact between the two teams after the game. The hosts should have allowed the guest team off the field first before heading to their respective locker room.

Let’s hope this is a learning opportunity which reduces the chances of future clashes between teams with intense rivalries – say, ahead of the meeting between number 4 ranked U-M and number 1 ranked Ohio State on Thanksgiving weekend?

~ ~ ~

The boys of summer in their ruin have now been reduced to the Houston Astros and the Philadelphia Phillies, tied up in the World Series at 1-1.

Next game in the series is tomorrow night at 8:00 p.m. ET.

I can’t help cracking up about the drama sports journalists drum up over these two teams meeting to fight for the title of World’s Best after nearly half a year and hundreds of games have simply worn all teams down to the two which can execute most competently with greatest consistency.

After the series ends whether five games or more, it will be back to chopping wood, carrying water.

~ ~ ~

Speaking of drama, NFL fans have surely gotten their fill this week of celebrity news about Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ quarterback Tom Brady and his divorce from ex-wife and model Gisele Bündchen.

I’m not a fan but I’ve had quite enough, thanks, and inside just hours. My social media feed was inundated with the news Bündchen had filed in the morning and then swamped again when the judge signed the order.

It’s amazing how quickly this was turned around. Sure, they did a lot of the pre-work made easier with the ability to pay for good lawyers, but the couple must have wanted out very badly.

I feel for their kids. They may have access to adequate therapy to help them through this, but it will never fully resolve why their dad bemoaned not being around from August through January for family birthdays and holidays then did a 180-degree turnaround on retirement and went back to work.

What’s really annoying: all this media-whipped hullabaloo about an athlete worth $330 million and his wife who’s worth $400 million, and no one asking what the American public should take away from this situation after it took possession of our media.

Professional football is socially-acceptable violence; it can cause traumatic injuries including paralysis and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) which can deeply affect players’ lives. The risk of injury was a major concern for Bündchen who didn’t want Brady to continue the risk to himself when he had little if nothing left to prove to his peers.

We’re watching a Senate race now in which one candidate, Herschel Walker, shows hallmarks of long-term CTE which may have hurt his kindred, legitimate and illegitimate, thanks to his tendency to violence and poor decision making. Georgia voters may inflict this on the public if they don’t re-elect their current senator.

High school football has already begun transitioning from contact to flag in some parts of the country to reduce the risk of injuries to minors. It’s not enough though, when we see college athletes acting out violently as with the Michigan State Spartans. We can call it unsportsmanlike conduct, but the conduct may have roots in CTE these young people have already experienced.

The roots go wider and deeper, though. It’s in our refusal to demand a sea change in football, our continued incentives for reporting stories like Brady’s divorce and Walker’s erratic behavior as a candidate as just celebrity gossip or horse race political reporting.

~ ~ ~

I began writing this post after a close friend’s father passed away yesterday morning.

Their father was a fixture in my school system for nearly all their career. Everybody who grew up here between the 1960s and 1980s knows the family because they either had him or his spouse as teachers and guides, and their kids as classmates.

I can’t think of a local high school football game or civic parade I’ve attended here when he wasn’t driving his convertible with his golden retriever for company.

We often ribbed him about the cute blonde in the passenger seat who accompanied him to so many sporting events before reaching over to pet the well-mannered pup.

Over the years when I’ve thought of school sports I’ve thought of him and how he always encouraged the kids in the school system, showing his support by being engaged in the community.

If I recall, Marcy may have run into him at a Michigan Democratic Party event in Michigan we both attended. Even then he talked up what I did for the local party like I was a rock star. But he did that for so many kids in the community even as they became adults with kids of their own.

He was what good sports is about, the positive affect engagement as a group can have on a community. Individuals acting with an end in mind can realize this constructive bonding.

We’re going to miss him and his kind of cheerleading.

This door has closed, an end has been met. It’s up to us to find the open window and the new beginning.

Treat this as an open thread.


Trash Talk: Kiss My Ash

Hey. Golf widow again, counting down the remaining weekends to the end of the season. Three more to go including this weekend.

It’s quiet here, past peak color. Our first hard frost this past week has done its work on the remaining holdouts – every tree has taken on a golden cast.

Sadly, the lawn loves this weather. The undead golfer came home long enough to cut the grass yesterday between his last round and the long 19th hole. (What a pity.) He’s counting down the weeks as well to the end of grass cutting season – four or five more to go, just in time for Thanksgiving and the end of firearm deer season.

So much to count down these days, including the mid-term elections — 15 days remaining.

~ ~ ~

Bye week for Michigan college football. No, not University of Michigan but BOTH of Michigan’s Big 10 schools were off this week.

I avoided the hardware store yesterday because it was surely packed considering the lack of Michigan college football on television.

States with names beginning with “O” did well yesterday:

Ohio State 54-10 over Iowa
Oklahoma State 41-34 over Texas
Oregon 45-30 over UCLA

I can’t help it – the logic of following certain teams makes as much sense as picking them by the first letter of their name. At least if they’re in your backyard it makes some sense to hope they do well because winning may bring students and revenue to your state.

And yet we place far too much emphasis on sports, especially football, at universities. University of Minnesota avoided a strike by its service workers this week after a tentative three-year agreement was reached yesterday. Terms haven’t yet been published and are subject to ratification.

What’s galling about the situation: service workers weren’t paid a living wage yet the university’s head coach for its football team is the highest paid public employee in Minnesota.

Fleck’s increase in salary of $350,000 annually bumps him from the 24th highest paid coach in the country, and the 8th highest in the Big Ten before, to tied for the 17th highest paid in college football and tied for the 5th highest in the Big Ten going forward. He has the same $5 million dollar salary as fellow Big Ten coaches Kirk Ferentz and Scott Frost. It’s an additional $2.45 million over the course of the contract, so essentially it’s a new 7-year deal worth $35.00 million dollars.

[source: 247sports.com]

How many service workers could have been bumped to a living wage with the $350,000 Coach Fleck received as a raise?

Our country is arguing over tuition loan forgiveness while 40 states’ highest paid public employees are paid millions to coach sports.

[Map: Highest Paid State Employees, July 2022 via Kiiky]

Last year for the first time the highest paid state employees across all 50 states were coaches. I suspect the map above may be out of date.

In a nutshell, our priorities are fucked up.

~ ~ ~

Major League Baseball took over my Twitter timeline again last night — or I should say, New York Yankees’ fans filled my feed with cries of frustration.

The Yankees have until 7:07 this evening to shake off the doldrums before they meet the Astros again. I’m hedging my bets and doing something offline.

Philadelphia Phillies beat the San Diego Padres last night 10-6, bringing them a game away from winning the National League. The next game in the Phillies-Padres series begins in about an hour.

The one interesting bit of baseball news I read this week — I acknowledge I’m not much of a baseball fan — was about the change in baseball bats over the last two decades.

My entire neighborhood had to switch to maple trees from ash when it was developed nearly 20 years ago, and yet it never dawned on me the same reason for this change also affected baseball.

The same reason I can’t bring firewood from the Upper Peninsula to the Lower or the reverse also affects baseball.

The emerald ash borer has chewed up so many ash tree baseball has moved toward maple bats. Maple, though, is not the same as ash being a much more dense wood, which means some players’ distance and loft may be affected.

Two good pieces worth reading:

Baseball History Is No Longer Written With Ash Bats, by Zach Schonbrun-NYT

How an Invasive Insect Destroyed the Louisville Slugger Forest, by Tanner Garrity-InsideHook

The former is more focused on the trees, the latter on baseball. They’re a nice complement to each other.

~ ~ ~

An American teenager landed his sport’s most elusive move this week. 17-year-old Ilia Malinin took the gold at the Skate America competition after landing a quadruple axel.

Keep an eye on this guy. He is absolutely amazing, Olympic caliber material.

~ ~ ~

This is an open thread with an emphasis on sports. Have at it while I go outside and take advantage of our unexpectedly warm October weather to get some yard work done.

Copyright © 2022 emptywheel. All rights reserved.
Originally Posted @ https://www.emptywheel.net/culture/